Yeah, yeah, I know: with all the hybrids and electrics in the news these days, it’s hard to believe an old gearhead like me can find five new cars worth talking about. But you want the truth? Those battery-powered contraptions are still just a small slice of the market. That means most new vehicles sold in 2013 will run on good old-fashioned dino juice.
And I’ve got five of ‘em here that are guaranteed to get your motor running. Here are the best 2013 cars from one gearhead’s point of view.
2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
Every gearhead appreciates the value of a tough truck, but the old Chevy Silverado 1500 had a problem: that’s all it was. Meanwhile, rivals like the Ram 1500 and Ford F-150 were taking their interiors uptown, creating mobile man caves full of luxury and technology. Fortunately, the redesigned 2014 Silverado finally brings Chevy up to speed. In particular, the boring old dashboard has been completely redone with new materials and an available iPad-like touchscreen interface. I’m fired up about the new family of engines, too—I’ve got my eye on the 6.2-liter V8.
2013 Ford Focus ST
Look, I’m not a front-wheel-drive kind of guy, so don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not going soft in my old age. The real story here is that Ford has brought neutral handling to this notoriously understeer-happy segment. I’m talking about hot hatches, and the turbocharged, 252-horsepower Focus ST is arguably the hottest one yet. It’s bound to be one of the top rated 2013 cars. Toss it into a corner and the clever brake-based front differential makes sure you stay right on your intended line instead of plowing wide. I got a chance to drive this thing on a road course, and I loved it. The Focus ST the only new Ford other than a Mustang V8 that I’d consider buying.
2014 SRT Viper
I’m gonna be in the minority here, but that’s never stopped me from speaking my mind: the new Viper’s front end looks a little too European for my taste. Fiat runs Chrysler nowadays, you see, and I just know some Italian designer in tight pants was behind the Viper’s dainty new headlights. But that’s nothing 640 horsepower can’t fix, is it? That’s right, the venerable 8.4-liter V10 has been reworked to pump out exactly two more horsepower than the swan-song-singing Corvette ZR1. Not too shabby, and neither is the all-new interior with fancy Sabelt sport seats and Chrysler’s excellent uConnect touch-screen. I wouldn’t kick this Viper out of the garage, if you know what I mean.
2014 Chevrolet Corvette
Speaking of Corvettes, there’s a new one of those, too. The redesigned C7 Corvette has pretty radical looks that show a little too much Japanese-style angularity, if you ask me. So the Viper’s not alone in borrowing from overseas. But I can’t wait to put the new 6.2-liter V8 through its paces. Dubbed “LT1,” the new V8 is bound to confuse car guys like me who remember the original LT1, a 5.7-liter V8 featured in the C4 Corvette of the 1990s, among others. (Hell, I even remember the hyphenated “LT-1” 350 V8 from the ‘70s.) But you know what, with an estimated 450 horsepower and about the same amount of torque, who cares? Plus, the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette has finally got an interior that cuts the mustard for a world-class sports car, or at least comes reasonably close. Any list of the best 2013 cars has got to include the new ‘Vette.
2013 Porsche Cayman
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve got a pro-Detroit bias, but when a car as good as the all-new 2013 Cayman comes along, a man’s gotta give credit where credit’s due. We’re talking about the best 2013 car models here, and the Cayman might just be the best of the best. I especially like the styling of this car: the Cayman used to look like the entry-level Porsche it was, but now it looks like a pint-sized supercar with those squarish headlights and beautiful taillights. Plus, a Cayman S with the 3.4-liter motor is every bit as fast as a 911 in a straight line, and probably faster around a track. This has yet to be conclusively proven, however. Hey Porsche, are you listening? Just give me a 911 and a Cayman S for the day, and I’ll test my theory at your earliest convenience.
Editor’s note: Our resident gearhead’s need for speed is almost as great as our need to get our DIY projects done. If you’ve got projects, look to Advance Auto Parts for the best selection—and even better deals.